Three paths for brands: grow, invest, or coast

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Has a brand disappointed you lately? Was it a brand you used to like, a brand you had high expectations of? It may be that that brand is coasting: succeeding based on its former reputation. Coasting is very profitable . . . until it isn’t. Brands may have become prominent due to advertising and marketing, … Continued

Harassment marketing

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Seth Godin wrote the book on permission marketing — the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. You know, like a mailing list. Marketers have turned this on its head with a new kind of marketing: harassment marketing. Those are marketing messages that … Continued

Lessons from a failure: Ghost writing pitch

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When I pitch myself for a freelance writing or editing job, I almost always win. Why? Because I am selective about the gigs I pursue, have sterling qualifications, and typically come recommended by someone the potential client trusts. But I just lost out on a job — a big one that I really wanted. I … Continued

Call center sinners should burn in hellfire

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I’m on hold right now waiting for a customer service rep — to investigate a serious problem that I neither caused nor asked for. I’d give up, except that resolving this is crucial to my future. And it’s hell. If the experience of calling your call center is a hellscape, your customer experience is terrible. … Continued

The client cascade

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In January of 2020, nearly two years ago, I got an email from an executive at a large streaming entertainment company. Would I consider conducting a business writing workshop for the company? Sure, I said. He asked for details and references. I sent the prospect — let’s call him Oliver — my one-page writeup for … Continued

Marketing in sheep’s clothing

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Marketing has such a poor reputation that it now has to pretend to be customer service. And it makes me hopping mad. For example . . . I got a letter from Spectrum, my internet provider, that said “Important information about your account.” Inside, a generic offer to upgrade my service. My doctor’s office used … Continued

The price of pushy

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One afternoon a couple years ago I was sitting peacefully in my den reading when I heard a loud buzzing sound. It got louder and softer, but never went away, and I’d never heard that particular sound in my house before. Like any other homeowner, I carefully looked around my house to determine if some … Continued

How the empathetic expert generates trust

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I was thinking about why I trust one particular doctor more than others. It comes down to two things: expertise and empathy. Neither, by itself, is sufficient. The doctor is Caroline Levine. She is a specialist who I visit at least twice a year, and who is protecting my health from serious jeopardy. She has … Continued